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Bacillus cereus is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped, facultatively anaerobic, motile, beta-hemolytic, spore forming bacterium commonly found in soil and food. The specific name, cereus, meaning “waxy” in Latin, refers to the appearance of colonies grown on blood agar. Some strains are harmful to humans and cause foodborne illness, while other strains can be beneficial as probiotics for animals The bacteria is classically contracted from fried rice dishes that have been sitting at room temperature for hours. B. cereus bacteria are facultative anaerobes, and like other members of the genus Bacillus, can produce protective endospores. Its virulence factors include cereolysin and phospholipase C.
The Bacillus cereus group comprises seven closely related species: B. cereus sensu stricto (referred to herein as B. cereus), B. anthracis, B. thuringiensis, B. mycoides, B. pseudomycoides, B. weihenstephanensis, and B. cytotoxicus.